Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Go Set a Watchman

Rated 4.5 Stars
Unabridged Audiobook

I just finished Go Set a Watchman. It's a very good book but I'm not all that sure I  liked it that much.  As a Southerner who is approximately the same age as the fictionalized Scout I can attest that  it's certainly true to it's time.  Harper Lee is a terrific writer even when she reminds you of a truth that you would prefer stayed conveniently under the rug you have swept it under.

The book also reminds me that it's not a good idea to put anyone on an unrealistically high pedestal because it's a long way to fall when the person inevitably slips off.

I also love, love, love the way she uses language.  It's music to my ears.

Now having said all that much I had to keep reminding myself that both 1) GSAW and TKAMB were both works of fiction.  2) Neither book was autobiographical but did include childhood reminiscences. 3) That TSAW wasn't written as a sequel.  It was a draft of a first attempt by the author to write a novel.  4) After finishing it the author for whatever reason didn't intend for it to be published.  5)  That IMO it was published in an underhanded kind of way as a way to make money for someone that wasn't Harper Lee or any of her nonexistent descendants.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

The Morland Dynasty

When I bought my new Kinde Fire I was please to discover they had improved the text to speech function so that it's listenable.  Not as good as audible but it makes listening to any book in Kindle possible.  This is a re-do for me.  I read the entire series as they were published but decided to revisit some of my favorite characters   So I'm listening to the 1/3 of the Morland Dynasty.  I started with The Promise which is where my favorite characters come of age so to speak and start to become main characters in the drama.  And just like before I was sucked right in.  I have finished The Promise, Dream Kingdom and The Restless Sea, The White Road. I'm now listening to The Burning Roses

The Question  5 stars

 I started with The Promise which is where my favorite characters come of age so to speak and start to become main characters in the drama. 

On the brink of a new century, the great stability of Victorian England is under threat. Europe is dividing into armed camps, while at home socialism and the suffragette movement challenge traditional values. At Morland Place, Teddy begins to restore the estate to its former glory, while his sister Henrietta's family fill the house with life, and nephew Bertie finds a haven from the strictures of his own home. As Victoria's reign draws to a close, war with the Boers becomes inevitable. Young men volunteer in droves, among them Henrietta's beloved extra son Bertie. The Tommies march off singing, eager for a scrap; but what horrors will face them under the burning South African sun, and which of them will come marching home again?I

The Dream Kingdom  5 stars

In the height of Edwardian splendor,  Jessie and Violet share a sparkling London debut. At Morland Place, Teddy's business is expanding and he brings home a new wife, to the anxiety of his sister Henrietta who knows there can't be two mistresses of the house. England is a land of confidence and opportunity but below the surface troubles are stirring. The death of the King brings to a head the constitutional crisis, while abroad the flexing of Russian and German might are an ominous sign of the dangers that lie ahead.

The Restless Sea   5 stars

England still conducts herself with Edwardian confidence; but beneath the surface cracks are breaking society apart. Socialism, strikes and riots, social unrest, and then the disasters of the Titanic and Captain Scott shake the ordered world. Among the Morlands, Jessie and Violet struggle to adapt to the demands of married life; Jack, unlucky in love, designs aeroplanes and trains pilots for the new Royal Flying Corps; and Anne, as the struggle for the Vote becomes more violent, takes comfort in the friendship of an unusual young woman. Meanwhile, the war no-one wants comes ever closer.

The White Road  5 Stars

The outbreak of war is greeted with euphoria. Thousands flock to volunteer. Everyone believes the war will be over by Christmas, so there’s no time to waste. Bertie, a reservist, is one of the first to go to France; Jack is invited to join the Royal Flying Corps, and Ned joins one of the new ‘Pals’ units. The brutal reality of Ypres dispels illusion, but only fuels determination, as the war comes home to everyone, in ways they have not expected.

The Burning Roses   5 stars

The euphoria of the first days of the war has faded, but the nation is more determined than ever to win. While the Morland men go overseas, the women play their part at home, but it is a strange and emotional time for all. And with the Eastern Front at stalemate, all now depends on the new offensive on the Western Front at Loos...

To Be Continued . . . . 

Thursday, April 30, 2015

The Ivy Years Series

The Year We Fell Down - Book One

By Sarina Bowen
Rated 4 Stars
Kindle Edition

I have always loved Romance novels but have learned over the years to be able to suspend my disbelief and skip past a lot of badly written icky sex scenes to get to the heart of the story.  So I am finding this new to me author refreshing.  Don't take this the wrong way.  I am not slamming the Romance genre its self but it's just like any other genre there are very good ones and very bad ones and thousands of in-between ones.  And since I read a lot of romance novels it only stands to reason that I run into my fair share of wall bangers.  But my point is that when I find an author who tells a great story, writes really well and touches my heart that's a real red letter day in my reading world.  This is one of those books and Sarina Bowen is an authors I will certainly follow.

 I really liked both characters.  Especially Corey who faced the new life she was unexpectedly dealt with common sense, courage and a sense of humor.  She only whined a little bit but that only made her more human in my eyes.  She deserved more whines than she took.

Hartley, well I had a little trouble with him.  In some ways he was a little too good to be true and in other ways he spent a lot of time with his head up his . . . in a dark place. But I learned to like him even before he got his act together.

As for as Hartley's snooty girl friend, well I had to cut her more slack than she deserved because I have a Granddaughter named Stacia and it's not all that common a name.

Book Description
 March 20, 2014
The sport she loves is out of reach. The boy she loves has someone else. What now?

She expected to start Harkness College as a varsity ice hockey player. But a serious accident means that Corey Callahan will start school in a wheelchair instead.

Across the hall, in the other handicapped-accessible dorm room, lives the too-delicious-to-be real Adam Hartley, another would-be hockey star with his leg broken in two places. He's way out of Corey's league.

Also, he's taken.

Nevertheless, an unlikely alliance blooms between Corey and Hartley in the "gimp ghetto" of McHerrin Hall. Over tequila, perilously balanced dining hall trays, and video games, the two cope with disappointments that nobody else understands.

They're just friends, of course, until one night when things fall apart. Or fall together. All Corey knows is that she's falling. Hard.

But will Hartley set aside his trophy girl to love someone as broken as Corey? If he won't, she will need to find the courage to make a life for herself at Harkness -- one which does not revolve around the sport she can no longer play, or the brown-eyed boy who's afraid to love her back.

The Year We Hid Away - Book 2

These New Adult novels have so much more depth than I expected.  Both of the main characters in this book faced some daunting challenges, the kind of challenges that could believably happen to a young person.  I really love it when I don't have to supped my disbelief a single time in a book about relationships.  I also liked it that I was not sure until nearly to the end whether or not Scarlet's Father was guilty or not. Hat tip to the author for keeping the reader in suspense. 

Book Description

 May 26, 2014
She's hiding something big. He's hiding someone small.
Scarlet Crowley's life was torn apart the day father was arrested for unspeakable crimes. Now the shock has worn off, but not the horror.
It's a safe bet that Scarlet is the only first year at Harkness College who had to sneak past TV news trucks parked on her front lawn just to leave town. But college will be Scarlet's fresh start. Clutching a shiny new student ID -- with a newly minted name on it -- she leaves it all behind. Even if it means lying to the boy she's falling for.

Bridger McCaulley is a varsity hockey star known for being a player both on and off the ice. But a sobering family crisis takes that all away. Protecting his sister means a precarious living arrangement and constant deception. The only bright spot in his week is the few stolen hours he spends with Scarlet.

The two form a tentative relationship based on the understanding that some things must always be held back. But when grim developments threaten them both, going it alone just won't work anymore. And if they can't learn to trust one another now, the families who let them down will take everything they've struggled to keep.

The Understatement of the Year (Ivy Years #3)

Rated 5 Stars

My word, this book really got to me.  It is is the first book I have ever read that really address the subject of how  how miserable life can be for a gay young person to live in the closet. At an age when at lot of young people are dealing with all of the issues that come with being a teen ager to have the added stress of knowing their  sexual orientation is going to add complications that will alter everyones perception of them is terribly painful.  Even if they come from loving homes where they are unconditionally loved and accepted they know, in fact have almost certainly already found out, that there are a lot of ugly and hateful people in the world.  

Book Description

 September 29, 2014
What happened in high school stayed in high school. Until now.

Five years ago, Michael Graham betrayed the only person who ever really knew him. Since then, he's made an art of hiding his sexual orientation from everyone. Including himself.

So it's a shock when his past strolls right into the Harkness College locker room, sporting a bag of hockey gear and the same slow smile that had always rendered Graham defenseless. For Graham, there is only one possible reaction: total, debilitating panic. With one loose word, the team's new left wing could destroy Graham's life as he knows it.

John Rikker is stuck being the new guy. Again. And it's worse than usual, because the media has latched onto the story of the only "out" player in Division One hockey. As the satellite trucks line the sidewalk outside the rink, his new teammates are not amused.

And one player in particular looks sick every time he enters the room.

Rikker didn't exactly expect a warm welcome from Graham. But the guy won't even meet his eyes. From the looks of it, his former... best friend / boyfriend / whatever isn't doing so well. He drinks too much and can't focus during practice.

Either the two loneliest guys on the team will self destruct from all the new pressures in their lives, or they can navigate the pain to find a way back to one another. To say that it won't be easy is the Understatement of the Year.

Blonde Date  - Novella

Rated 4 Stars

Book Description

 July 6, 2014
A blind date. A nervous sorority girl. A mean-spirited fraternity prank. What could go wrong?

As a sorority pledge, there are commandments that Katie Vickery must live by. One: thou shalt not show up for the party without a date. Two: the guy shall be an athlete, preferably an upperclassman.

Unfortunately, Katie just broke up with her jerkface football player boyfriend. Even worse, her last encounter with him resulted in utter humiliation. She’d rather hide under the bed than attend a party where he'll be.

Yet staying home would mean letting him win.

Enjoying herself tonight was out of the question. She could only hope to get through the evening without her blind date noticing that he was spending the evening with a crazy person.

Andrew Baschnagel is living proof that nice guys don’t finish first. He’s had his eye on Katie since the moment her long legs waltzed into his art history class. So when her roommate sets Andy up to be Katie’s date, he’d be crazy to say no. Unfortunately, he doesn’t have a lot of practice with either girls or parties. Yet.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015


By Tammara Webber
Rated 5 Stars

I loved this book.  The title says it all.  It's a very sweet love story.

Copied from Tammara Webbers website

(Contours of the Heart® Book 3)

He’s the love of her life, but he doesn’t know it.
She’s his one moment of sacrifice in a lifetime of survival.
He was damaged and wild, but resilient.
She’s always been obedient; now she’s restless.

Home for the summer between college and med school, Pearl Torres Frank knows two things: Boyce Wynn is the embodiment of everything she should run from and everything she wants to run to. Rebellious and loud. Unconcerned with society’s opinion of him. Passionate. Strong. Dangerous.

And one more trait he hides from everyone but her:

(Spinoff novel; may be read as a standalone.)

Friday, April 24, 2015

The Winter Sea

Rated 1 Star

This book was on my audible wish list for over a year.  I should have left it there.  ZZZzzzzzzzzz.

Publisher's description:

Escaping an unhappy marriage and an unsatisfactory job, Cassie Holloway moves to the little Australian coastal town of Whitby Point. There she meets the Aquino family, whose fishing business was founded by their ancestor, Giuseppe, an Italian immigrant, some ninety years before. Life for Cassie on the south west coast is sweet as she sets up a successful restaurant and falls in love with Giuseppe's great grandson Michael. But when the family patriarch dies, a devastating family secret is revealed which threatens to destroy her dreams. Cassie's future happiness now rests with her quest for the truth

Monday, April 20, 2015

Other Side of the Night

The Carpathia, the Californian and the Night the Titanic Was Lost

By:  Daniel Allen Buter
Non Fiction
Rated 5 Stars

I really liked this book.  I used one of my audible credits and it was a credit well spent. was one of myIt was very well written and contains a whole lot of information that I had never heard before.  It was narrated by Paul Heitscht who did a very good job.. 

Publisher's Summary
After every disaster, someone has something to hide.... 
A few minutes before midnight on April 14, 1912, the "unsinkable" RMS Titanic, on her maiden voyage to New York, struck an iceberg. Less than three hours later she lay at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean. While the world has remained fascinated by the tragedy, the most amazing drama of those fateful hours was not played out aboard the doomed liner. It took place on the decks of two other ships, one 58 miles distant from the sinking Titanic, the other barely 10 miles away. The masters of the steamships Carpathia and Californian, Captain Arthur Rostron and Captain Stanley Lord, were informed within minutes of each other that their vessels had picked up the distress signals of a sinking ship. Their actions in the hours and days that followed would become the stuff of legend, as one would choose to take his ship into dangerous waters to answer the call for help, while the other would decide that the hazard to himself and his command was too great to risk responding. 
After years of research, Daniel Allen Butler now tells this incredible story, moving from ship to ship on the icy waters of the North Atlantic - in real time - to recount how hundreds of people could have been rescued, but in the end only a few outside of the meager lifeboats were saved. He then looks alike at the U.S. Senate investigation in Washington, and ultimately the British Board of Trade inquiry in London, where the actions of each captain are probed, questioned, and judged, until the truth of what actually happened aboard the Titanic, the Carpathia and the Californian is revealed. 
Daniel Allen Butler, a maritime and military historian, is the best-selling author of "Unsinkable": The Full Story of RMS Titanic, Distant Victory: The Battle of Jutland and the Allied Triumph in the First World War, and The First Jihad: The Battle for Khartoum and the Dawn of Militant Islam. He is an internationally recognized authority on maritime subjects and a popular guest-speaker for several cruise lines. Butler lives and works in Los Angeles, California.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Inch'on 1950

By:  Gordon Rottman
Rated 3 Stars

This book is  very dry and it was difficult for me to keep my attention focused on what I was reading.   .  However it did answer one question that I have always wondered about.  How in the heck did my late husband even end up fighting in this war anyway?  He never talked about it much except that he was recalled and not happy about it but that there was nothing he could do about it.  He only served one year that time.  Oh he did say on the night before the landing (he was one of a three man crew on the landing crafts) and been given a form and a pen and told to make their wills.  He said that made them all feel great.  Not!

Anyway this book went into detail about how surprised the US was about the whole Korean thing and that after WW2 was over the Gov't  had dismantled all the services to the point where they were completely unprepared to fight in any type of conflict.  However, when  people were being discharged after WW2 the Gov't had, in a rare case of foresight, required each member of the armed services to sign a paper saying they agreed to being released to the "Inactive Reserves" which could be called up should the country ever need them.  And in this case they immediately started calling up thousands of WW2 veterans, especially those who had previous combat experience so they could pitched straight into combat without training.  And that's the story of how my husband ended up in the Korean War. Now I know.

Book Description

 October 23, 2012
Osprey's study of Inch'on, which was probably the most significant campaign in the Korean War (1950-1953), as well as the last major amphibious assault of division-size conducted in the history of warfare. The odds were stacked against the US troops, with virtually no time for training and many of the divisions unprepared for the conflict. The success of the Inch'on campaign is a testament to the sheer initiative of the officers and NCOs conducted it. This book details the strategy and tactics that led to the operation's success, as well as narrating the experience of the battle in fascinating detail.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Just Not Mine

(Escape to New Zealand Book 6)
By:  Rosalind James

Rated 4 1/2 Stars

This is one of my favorite books in the Escape to New Zealand but honestly, all of them are good reads.  But some of these books connect with me more than others and I connected especially well with Hugh and Josie.

Book Description
 June 5, 2014
Destiny can sneak up on you. Or it can smack you in the face.

Hugh Latimer’s coping with a few problems just now. A broken hand, missing the European rugby tour . . . and a half-brother and sister who are playing havoc with his love life. Instead of packing down in the scrum, he’s driving the carpool to ballet—or forgetting it’s his turn. When he hears his neighbor wailing out bad pop in the wee hours, it’s the last straw.

Josie Pae Ata is a fortunate woman. A new house, good friends, a gorgeous boyfriend—oh, and stardom, too. Getting involved with her new neighbors would bring risks she doesn’t need. But life has a way of changing the rules. And when you get more than you can handle, sometimes all you can do is hang on for the ride. 

The Mist's of Avalon

By: Marion Zimmer Bradley
Rated: 5+ Stars
Audio Book

I first read this book about 15 years ago but this is the first time I have listened to it.  Listening to an audio book is a completely different thing for me  than actually reading it is so I could say the story new for several reasons.  The first reason is that I am forced to go at the narrator's pace.  If it's a book I really like as in this case I get a lot more detail that my eyes have a tendency to skip over in its hurry to find out what happens next.  The second reason is that during the intervening 15 years I have read a lot of other books and I have forgotten a to of it.  It was time for me to revisit this one.

Book Description

 July 15, 2001
In Marion Zimmer Bradley's masterpiece, we see the tumult and adventures of Camelot's court through the eyes of the women who bolstered the king's rise and schemed for his fall. From their childhoods through the ultimate fulfillment of their destinies, we follow these women and the diverse cast of characters that surrounds them as the great Arthurian epic unfolds stunningly before us. As Morgaine and Gwenhwyfar struggle for control over the fate of Arthur's kingdom, as the Knights of the Round Table take on their infamous quest, as Merlin and Viviane wield their magics for the future of Old Britain, the Isle of Avalon slips further into the impenetrable mists of memory, until the fissure between old and new worlds' and old and new religions' claims its most famous victim.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The Twilight Warriors: The Deadliest Naval Battle of World War II and the Men Who Fought It | [Robert Gandt] PLAY AUDIO SAMPLE The Twilight Warriors: The Deadliest Naval Battle of World War II and the Men Who Fought It

By:  Robert Gant
Rated 5 Stars

A while back I purchased this book with one of my audible credits. It's about a squadron of airman who were commissioned in the Naval air force right at the end of WWII in the pacific. Why such a pacifist person like me likes war books is a mystery for the ages. But this particular book caught my eye because the blurb said it was about the invasion of Okinawa and was the largest naval battle of WW2. My husband participated in that battle as a very young 17 year old sailor. He joined on this 17th birthday scared to death he was going to miss the war completely. This attached photo of him was taken around that time. I did not have this picture of him but in a serendipitous moment Ree posted it on his tribute to her Dad. It was so perfect for this post
I swiped it from her.
After listening to this book, I am sorry I didn't ask him more about it. I don't remember him saying much other than he said he was one of the picket ships designed to make smoke that obscured the bigger ships from the kamikazes and to provide extra anti aircraft fire, that he heard more fighting than he saw since he was in the engine room when his ship was engaged in fighting. He also said that at the time he was not smart enough to be scared but I think he must have lied about that because in this book the pickett ships suffered way more casualties because they were the first things the suicide pilots saw and he would have to have been really clueless not to be. But at 17? Well he might have been. <shrug>.
I realize this is ancient history to people now. Heck it was 69 years ago. But having a personal connection sure made the book more interesting to me and I wish now I had asked him more about what it was like for a cocky 17 year kid who didn't have enough sense to be afraid. The sailor I knew and loved was the man who held responsible positions and swaned off to Viet Nam for 6 months at a time where I never considered him to be in the least bit of danger even though he probably was in some. All navel ships can be dangerous in certain circumstances.
Any way this year on November 11th I am going to remember the young boy who became the man I loved and married. Adding together all his service he was downright awesome

Publisher's Summary:

"April 1945. The end of World War II finally appears to be nearing. The Nazis are collapsing in Europe, and the Americans are vastly overpowering the Japanese in the Pacific. For a group of pilots in their early 20s who were trained during the twilight of the war, the biggest concern is that they'll never actually see real action and will go home without having a chance to face the enemy. They call themselves Tail-End Charlies. They fly at the tail end of formations, stand at the tail end of chow lines, and now they are prepared for battle at the tail end of the war. Little do they know that they will be key players in the most difficult and bloodiest of naval battles---not only of World War II but in all of American history: the campaign to take the Japanese island of Okinawa to serve as a basis for an eventual invasion of Japan. Derived from interviews with and newly discovered memoirs, journals, and correspondence of Okinawa veterans from both the American and Japanese sides, The Twilight Warriors provides a thrilling you-are-there narrative. Like the HBO series The Pacific, this book combines thrilling action with human stories of courage and sacrifice and triumph. It's Band of Brothers at sea and in the sky."

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Tarzan of the Apes

by Edgar Rice Burroughs.
Rated 4 1/2 Stars
Format:  Kindle

This book was a free download for Kindle.  I read this when I was about 12 years old and that was a very long time ago.  The writing is dated but not as badly as it could be.  It's also quite funny in places.  Professor Porter, Jane's Father and his Secretary Mr. Samuel T. Philander must have been the characters that Laurel and Hardy were based on.  Jane is a typical ninny because she is a blonde and her character was written by a man in about 1914.  Her Father advises her not to trouble her pretty little head with weighty matters!  Fatal words in todays world.  But I'm enjoying it.  A very nice change of pace.

Friday, July 11, 2014

To Kill a Mockingbird

By Harper Lee
Rated: 5 Stars!!!!!!
Audio book
Narrated by: Sissy Spacek

This book was a re-read for me.  I read it several years ago and like most of the rest of the world I loved it.  I have been checking from to to time to see if audible had added it to their catalog and finally it showed up.

I purchased it the day it became available and immediately listened to it straight through and it was magic.  Sissy Spacek's narration is pure genius.  It transforms what was already one of the best books I had ever read and manages to add even more dimensions to it.  I grew up in small towns in the South and was a little girl very much like Scout.  I was transported straight back into my childhood.  I cannot recommend this book highly enough.